Little has leaked out about the details of the Iran nuclear talks, but senior US officials have offered a rare insight into some of the more surprising behind-the-scenes facts.
How many times has the US delegation been in Vienna chasing a deal to put a bomb out of Iran’s reach?
Eleven times in 2014 and six or seven this year, depending on which team you are on. Every member of the team has celebrated their birthday at least once in the Austrian capital.
Experts have flown across the Atlantic 69 times since negotiations for a full accord began in February 2014. One team member “calculated he has travelled 400,000 miles (643,00 kilometres), roughly the distance of circumnavigating the earth 16 times,” a senior US administration official said.
How do they sustain the pace?
With junk food, more in tune with a teenager’s diet than that of a healthy adult. By their latest calculations, since the start of June they have scoffed their way through 10 pounds (5 kilos) of strawberry-flavoured Twizzler sticks, 30 pounds (15 kilos) of mixed nuts — they’re “very popular” — and some 20 pounds (10 kilos) of string cheese. Some 200 Rice Krispie treats also helped keep spirits up, while one birthday celebration alone this week saw the team devour three litres of ice-cream. The number of espresso pods used in the coffee machine is in its “hundreds.”
Who does the team think would play them in “Iran Talks: the Movie:?
Meryl Streep, in her sharp-suited elegance in “And the Devil Wears Prada” would be Under Secretary Wendy Sherman. Ted Danson, he of “Cheers” fame, would play Secretary of State John Kerry. While Kirsten Dunst would play the blonde-haired spokeswoman Marie Harf.
Number of trips to the hospital?
Four in total including Kerry when he broke his leg during a cycling accident in the French Alps. He is still walking on crutches from that incident. Sherman has also broken her finger.
One big happy family?
While they miss their families back home, US officials say they work well together as a team.
“Like any family, we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we stick together and we work incredibly well, which is why we have gotten as far as we have. People have come and gone on the team, but everyone shares the characteristics of professionalism, integrity, and selflessness that makes this really an incredible group,” said a senior administration official.